Updated: January 12, 2013 12:09 PM | By The Canadian Press, thecanadianpress.com

North America extends lead at Continental Cup



PENTICTON, B.C. - North America swept three mixed doubles games on Saturday to stretch its lead at the World Financial Group Continental Cup.

The home team has taken a 16-8 lead over the World team in the third day of the Ryder Cup-style curling competition. The first team to claim 30.5 points wins the WFG Continental Cup.

Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing of Coldwater, Ont., paired up to defeat Norway's Torger Nergard and Switzerland's Carmen Kung 7-5. Jones and Laing — their first time playing together — had their first baby, daughter Isabella, in November.

"Brent and I practise a lot together so we knew what to expect," said Jones. "He's obviously super smart so he was really helping me out; he played outstanding. Absolutely, he took directions well. Like I told you, he's smart."

In other morning play, Glenn Howard of Coldwater teamed with American Natalie Nicholson for a 9-4 triumph over Scotland's Greg Drummond and Anna Sloan, stealing deuces in the seventh and eighth ends.

"It was a blast," said Howard, the reigning world men's champion. "It's only the second (mixed doubles) game I've ever played; you're sweeping, you're jumping up and calling (after throwing the rock), you're running around with your head cut off, but it's a lot of fun. Nat was a great partner and I'd love to do this again."

The sweep was completed by Heath McCormick of New York and Edmonton's Jessica Mair with a 9-3 win over Sweden's Sebastian Kraupp and Maria Prytz.

"Fortunately it went our way right from the start and we kept the pressure on them," said McCormick. "In the middle with Jessica's three shots, she was making them all and it makes it pretty easy on me."

Play continues Saturday with the final women's team draw of the competition, and the men's team draw later in the evening.

World will try to muster up some energy despite being ravaged by a stomach bug that is taking its toll on the team.

"There's nothing we can do," said World captain David Hay. "We just have to toughen up and hang in there and compete. This thing hinges on Sunday's (skins) games. We've got to try to stem the flow of points going to the North Americans as quickly as we can. If we can get out of today . . . that would be great for us."

The winning side receives $52,000 ($2,000 per member, including captain and coach), while the losing side gets $26,000 ($1,000 per member, including captain and coach). As well, the side that generates the highest point total in Sunday's six skins games will receive an additional $13,000.

Each team has won four Continental Cups.

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